(JTA) — The star of a blockbuster horror franchise and an Oscar-winning veteran actress saw their careers take a hit this week over their public comments on Jews and Israel in some of the most high-profile examples yet of how the ongoing Israel-Hamas war has impacted Hollywood.
Variety reported Tuesday that Melissa Barrera was recently fired from the upcoming seventh installment of the “Scream” series over pro-Palestinian social media posts that the film’s producers implied had crossed the line into antisemitism.
The “In The Heights” star had reportedly posted that “Western media only shows” the Israeli side of the conflict, adding, “Why do they do that, I will let you deduce for yourself” — wording that flirted with dog-whistle stereotypes about Jews controlling the media. In other pro-Palestinian posts, she shared an article from Jewish Currents, the left-wing magazine, that said Israel was carrying out genocide and also shared an accusation that it was committing “ethnic cleansing” in the Gaza Strip. The posts were no longer visible as of Wednesday.
Barrera had starred in the recent fifth and sixth “Scream” movies, which were released in 2022 and 2023 and were both big hits.
Spyglass Media Group, the production company behind “Scream VII,” told Variety in a statement: “We have zero tolerance for antisemitism or the incitement of hate in any form, including false references to genocide, ethnic cleansing, Holocaust distortion or anything that flagrantly crosses the line into hate speech.” Spyglass’s co-founder and current CEO, Gary Barber, is Jewish and signed a Hollywood open letter in the immediate aftermath of Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack on Israel that stated in part, “We unequivocally stand in solidarity with Israel in the global fight against terrorism. Am Yisrael Chai.”
The film’s director, Christopher Landon, posted and then deleted a message Tuesday to the social network X with a broken-heart emoji. “Everything sucks. Stop yelling. This was not my decision to make,” he wrote. Variety also reported that Barrera appeared to no longer be working with a publicist following her firing.
Barrera’s “Scream” co-star, Jenna Ortega, also announced this week she is not returning to the next installment. Ortega has also been an outspoken pro-Palestinian advocate online, although earlier rumors that she left over objections to Barrera’s firing were disputed by multiple outlets, which instead cited scheduling conflicts.
Susan Sarandon was dropped this week by United Talent Agency over comments she made at a pro-Palestinian rally, including that American Jews facing antisemitism are now “getting a taste of what it feels like to be Muslim in this country.”
Sarandon, who won an Oscar for her role in “Dead Man Walking” and recently starred in the superhero movie “Blue Beetle,” has long been a vocal left-wing activist. She has appeared at several pro-Palestinian rallies since the war broke out, but her recent comments comparing Jews and Muslims appear to have been the last straw for UTA. On Instagram, Sarandon has also reposted anti-Israel messages from former Pink Floyd frontman Roger Waters, who has been accused of antisemitism in his activism.
While Barrera and Sarandon’s comments differed in approach and tone, reactions to them pointed to what reports have indicated is a larger rift developing over Israel in the entertainment industry. The Writers Guild of America declined to sign a statement on the war last month, while industry leaders including Israeli actress Gal Gadot helped organize a controversial screening of footage from the Hamas Oct. 7 attacks that was met with violence and condemned by other industry figures including director Boots Riley. Comedian Dave Chappelle lambasted Israel onstage during a Boston show last month, prompting some fan walkouts.
And after an A-list agent, Maha Dakhil, reposted several Instagram messages last month that included the statement “You’re currently learning who supports genocide,” she faced severe blowback and resigned from top industry leadership roles. Tom Cruise, a client of Dakhil’s, reportedly personally intervened at her agency, Creative Artists Agency, to help save her standing in the company. She has since met with top Jewish leaders, including Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt.
Other talents that have reportedly lost Hollywood representation over their Israel comments include the entrepreneurs Saira Rao and Regina Jackson, founders of Race2Dinner, an organization that staged pricey antiracist dinner parties. Rao posted on X that the two were dropped by CAA over “our words denouncing genocide.”
Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow
i24 News – Russia has extended invitations to various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and Fatah, for discussions on the Israel-Hamas conflict and broader issues in the Middle East.
Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov announced the initiative on Friday, highlighting Moscow’s desire to engage with all major players in the region amid heightened tensions.
The invitation included a dozen Palestinian groups and is slated for “inter-Palestinian” talks scheduled to commence on February 29.
Bogdanov, serving as President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy for the Middle East, emphasized the inclusivity of the invitation, stating, “We invited all Palestinian representatives — all political forces that have their positions in different countries, including Syria, Lebanon, and other countries in the region.”
Among the invitees are Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, alongside representatives of Fatah and the broader Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).
The invitation comes at a critical juncture as the Israel-Hamas conflict continues to escalate, drawing international attention and concern. Russia’s proactive stance in convening discussions reflects its growing criticism of Israel and its Western allies, underscoring Moscow’s efforts to assert its influence in the region.
The post Russia Extends Invitation to Palestinian Factions for Talks in Moscow first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose
i24 News – Hamas drops its “delusional” demands, productive hostage talks could begin, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Saturday, stressing Israel would not agree to the terror group’s current demands.
WATCH: PM Netanyahu delivers a statement after Hamas suspended negotiations pic.twitter.com/nxISPb4JUm
— i24NEWS English (@i24NEWS_EN) February 17, 2024
“I insist that Hamas should abandon its delusional demands – and when it does, we will be able to move forward,” Netanyahu said in a statement live on TV.
“Those who want us to desist from the Rafah operation,” the leader said in an apparent reference to the U.S. administration of President Joe Biden, “are telling us we should lose. We won’t be dictated to.”
The post Netanyahu: Those Who Want us to Desist from Rafah Op Are Telling Us to Lose first appeared on Algemeiner.com.
Iran Unveils New Air Defense Weaponry
i24 News – Iran demonstrated new weaponry on Saturday, including what it said was the locally made Arman anti-ballistic missile system and the Azarakhsh low-altitude air defense system, said the official IRNA news agency. Saturday’s unveiling ceremony of the two vehicle-mounted systems was held in the presence of Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Ashtiani.
“With the entry of new systems into the country’s defense network, the air defense capability of the Islamic Republic of Iran will increase significantly,” said IRNA.
Video of the new Azarakhsh SHORAD engaging a target drone
— Iran Defense|نیروهای مسلح جمهوری اسلامی ایران (@IranDefense) February 17, 2024
The Arman missile system is said to be able to “simultaneously confront six targets at a distance of 120 to 180 km,” while the Azarakhsh missile system “can identify and destroy targets up to a range of 50 km with four ready-to-fire missiles.”
The announcement comes amid tensions across the Middle East, with Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthis attacking vessels linked to the United States, UK and Israel in the Red Sea in a show of solidarity with the Gaza Strip.
— Press TV (@PressTV) February 17, 2024
The U.S. and its allies in the Middle East are concerned with Iran’s growing role at the international global arms market, The Wall Street Journal said on Friday. The transformation of the industry, boosted by Russia’s “purchase of thousands of drones that altered the battlefield in Ukraine, has helped Tehran scale up its support of militia allies in Middle East conflicts,” read the report.